by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - A local Christian pastor in India’s Karnataka state was charged with carrying out “malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings" last month, after Hindu militants stormed into his church and called on police to arrest him, Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) reports. Christians in India have been under increasing persecution since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power in 2014.
On October 17, Pastor Somu Avaradh was conducting a Sunday service at his church in the city of Hubballi when militants from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal Hindu nationalist parties forced their way into the building, VOM reports. The militants had come to protest because a man known as Vishvanath alleged he was taken to the church and forced to convert to Christianity.
The activists demanded that Pastor Somu be arrested, and he was, VOM said. The pastor has now been charged with "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings."
Hindu activists around the country have been using India’s increasing number of anti-conversion laws to call for the arrest and imprisonment of Christians who are simply preaching the Gospel or attending church services. Such actions have been emboldened by the power and influence of the BJP. In 2013, prior to the rise to power of the BJP, India had ranked 31 on the US Open Doors Watch List of top 50 countries which persecute Christians - this year it ranks 10.
Calling for prayer for Pastor Somu and his church, VOM said in its report: “Pray that the truth will prevail in the case against Pastor Somu, and that the charges against him will be dropped. May God radically change the hearts of those who oppose the Gospel in India, leading them to turn in faith to Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit by revealing the wonderful love and eternal hope that can only be found in Him.”